RIVERSIDE — While winning a regional title was a goal set by most competitors at Saturday’s day-long California Community College Athletic Assn. Track and Field Southern California Regionals at Riverside City College, for the Glendale Community College squad, advancing to state was an equal prize.
The Vaqueros’ Elizabeth Nelson captured her school’s only two crowns, but the sophomore standout will be joined at the season-concluding state championships at Mt. San Antonio College by several teammates who earned at-large berths.
As for the team competition, the Glendale women tied for fourth with El Camino with 54 points, while Mt. San Antonio took the title with 122 points.
On the men’s side, the Vaqueros were 14th (15 points) in a championship race clinched by Riverside (170 points).
“I really thought we’d get about 55 points today, which is just about what we got, so I’m happy with the ladies,” Glendale Coach Eddie Lopez said. “As for the guys, well, we didn’t do as well as I would have liked, especially on the track.
“But we’ll move forward and be thankful to have a runner like Lizzy on our side.”
For about two laps, it appeared Nelson was in trouble in her first event, the 1,500-meter run.
The two-sport distance runner was fourth just outside a box that consisted of Orange Coast College’s Raenna Cortez, Mt. San Antonio’s Sierra Ungerman and Cuyamaca’s Nichol Buck.
Yet, about 200 meters past the midway point, Nelson broke through and took the lead. With about 200 meters remaining, Nelson created ample space and rolled to victory in 4 minutes, 38.03 seconds.
“The race went out really slow,” said Nelson, who was so nervous before her event that she nearly forgot to attach her cleats. “It was real tactical, which is sort of surprising because you usually expect someone to try and go out real fast.
“When I got to that last 400 meters, I wasn’t even sure if I could do it. I just tried to kick and pulled away.”
Nelson also had another late kick stored away when she rallied from a two-second gap over the last 200 meters and won the 5,000-meter run in 18:03.26, just edging out East Los Angeles’ Laura Aceves (18:03.70).
While Nelson secured her school’s only wins, Glendale had a reserve of standout efforts.
Glendale sophomore Justice Shank came up a bit short in her attempt to capture the SoCal championship in the high jump, yet she wasn’t all that disappointed.
That’s because Shank, formerly of Burroughs High, took the silver with a personal-best leap of 1.75 meters (5 feet, 8 3/4 inches) and advanced to state in an event won by Chaffey’s Rachel McCoy (1.80 meters or 5-10 3/4).
“I’m really satisfied because I hit my [personal record],” said Shank, who eclipsed her previous best of 5-8. “[McCoy] really gave me a battle and she’s a great athlete, but I’m happy with my mark.”
Both McCoy and Shank leaped to 1.75 meters without a hiccup before Shank no-heighted on three straight attempts at 1.80.
McCoy also missed in her first two attempts at 1.80, before just clearing the bar on her final try.
Like Shank, Saturday marked a historic effort from Glendale’s Aisiah Tuiasospo in the discus.
The freshman delivered a personal-best toss of 134-10, which netted a bronze.
Tuiasospo entered with a previous top throw of 126-6 and blitzed that mark on her final attempt.
“I just thought about my family going into that last round and about how much work it took me to get here,” said Tuiasospo, who’s also headed to state. “I tried to stay calm and just give everything I had on that last throw.”
Glendale added two more qualifiers in the women’s 800, as sophomore Lizette Gonzalez (2:16.15) and freshman Glindyll Mancia (2:16.60) finished third and fourth, respectively, and punched their tickets to state in an event won by Orange Coast’s Leanne Allen (2:11.47).
Freshman high jumper Marcus Streeter was the last Glendale athlete to earn advancement Saturday, even though the Vaqueros competitor no-heighted on six of his eight total attempts.
Fortunately for Streeter, he did convert his final try at 6-5 and took the event’s last qualifying spot in sixth place in a competition clinched by Cerritos’ Adam Aguirre (7-2 1/4).
Street just outlasted Riverside’s Ishmael Stevenson (6-3 1/4).
Glendale’s Kelly Castillo just missed earning automatic advancement to state when the Providence High product finished seventh, one spot off the final qualifying place, in the 3000-meter steeplechase in a time of 11 minutes, 51.51 seconds.
Castillo did beat her prelims mark of 12:03.21.
In other events, Glendale sophomore Edwardo Vasquez was elbowed midway through his 1,500-meter run and finished 12th in 4:07, while the Glendale men’s 400-relay squad of Rick Goulsby, Charence Lander, Raymond Ou and Jonathan Lopez took eighth in 44.01.
Glendale’s Alejandra Quintero (19:36.30) and Caitlyn Selve (19:46.56) also finished 16th and 19th, respectively, in the women’s 5,000 and sophomore Enrique Ramirez took 13th in 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:57.65.